On Monday, I begin my new job as a special education class teacher. I'm a qualified teacher and have worked for over four years in primary schools now, as well as having completed a Master's degree in Medical Humanities and worked in the psychosocial services of a charity.
I'm really excited, but daunted too because I am changing from a mainstream school to special education. I wanted to share the 5 DBT skills that I will be using on Monday to cope with the stress and anxiety of starting my new job.
1. Noticing judgements
It is more than likely that I will have anxious thoughts such as 'I can't do it', 'x thinks I'm not doing a good job', 'everyone thinks I am a fool' and 'this is too much for me'. I have had these thoughts a million times before and they have almost always been inaccurate or have not shown the whole picture.
2. Pushing Away Thoughts
This is part of the ACCEPTS distress tolerance acronym. When there is an upsetting or stressful thought that keeps arising in my mind, I need to notice the thought and then say 'okay, I can see I am having the thought about _____, now I am going focus on reading/cooking/painting'.
In my DBT group, the therapists called this 'teflon mind' meaning that the mind needs to be like a non-stick pan with thoughts sliding off the mind, rather than attaching. This is not a one-off skill, but something that I may need to do a hundreds or thousands of times a day as thoughts arise.
3. Appear confident
I have taken this skill from the 'DEAR MAN' acronym which is the interpersonal skill for making a request effectively. I need to remember that I have been told (and have seen the evidence) that I am a great teacher and so it's likely this will apply also to being a special education in time. It is important for me to remind myself that it takes time to learn everything in a new job and even just learn everyone's names and find my way around the building.
4. please skills
I explain the PLEASE skills in this post. They are incredibly important for me because as soon as I get tired, hungry or run down, I am liable to become even more emotionally sensitive. As I will be starting work at 7.30am, I have been altering my sleep routine so it will be easier for me to wake up earlier and sleep earlier. I have also been thinking ahead about snacks and packed lunches so I have enough energy to teach.
5. mini holiday
The build up to this new job has been making me a bit anxious, so I have been making sure I rest and have 'time out' from preparing. I have been watching some of my favourite shows on TV, spending time playing games and walking my dog etc. I will make sure that in the evenings after work next week I try to relax and wind down as much as possible.
As you can see, these skills could also be helpful at any time, not just for starting a new job. Let me know what you think....